The Internal Revenue Service's crime fighting division did a bang-up job last fiscal year, stopping almost $10 billion in tax fraud. That 2018 amount was four times more than the previous fiscal year, according to the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Division’s annual report released today. CI, which marked its 100-year anniversary at the Oct. 1 start of the 2019 fiscal year, identified $9.7 billion in tax fraud during the last fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018). That's up dramatically from the $2.5 billion CI found in fiscal 2017. Much crime, but tax fraud focus: General tax fraud... Read more →


Like helping people? You can extend your volunteer penchant beyond the holidays and into the coming tax season by becoming a volunteer with an Internal Revenue Service-approved free tax help site. Don't worry. You'll get, like the folks pictured here, the tax training needed to help others fulfill their tax tasks. (Screenshot from IRS video) The holidays are here. Yeah, I'm not ready either, but … In this season of giving, many folks donate to charities. This year, much of the focus in on helping nonprofits that assist folks who've suffered through natural disasters, notably the deadly wildfires still burning... Read more →


Updated Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 Smoke from the Camp, Hill and Woolsey fires now burning in California as seen via NASA satellite images. Earthquakes have been displaced as the most feared nature disaster in California. Wildfires, which once again are ravaging the Golden State, now are the biggest perennial natural threat, as evidenced by the latest rash of devastating and deadly flame outbreaks. Firefighters are battling three wildfires across the state. The Camp Fire, named after Camp Creek Road, is now the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. As of Monday, Nov. 12, morning, the fire was responsible... Read more →


The poppy was adopted as the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1922. One century ago today, history's bloodiest war to date ended after more than four years of slaughter. The Veterans Day holiday was conceived as Armistice Day to honor the 4.7 million Americans who served — and the 116,500 who died — in World War I, or what was then called the Great War. The original specificity has a solemn meaning. It marks the armistice between World War I's Allied forces and Germany ending the fighting on the Western Front at precisely 11 a.m.... Read more →


Since I'm still recovering from my medical procedure last week, I'm following doctor's orders and taking it as easy as possible. Translation: More milkshakes! But I'm nothing if not a slightly obsessive-compulsive creature of habit. So I did want to get a Saturday Shout Out piece up today. Solution: I'm combining both medical directions and blogging impulses and recommending related tax reading today. Specifically, I'm going to the source, the Internal Revenue Service, for its comprehensive list of tax-deductible medical items and procedures. That is, of course, IRS Publication 502. IRS' medical deductions codex: The IRS hasn't updated Pub. 502... Read more →


The 2018 tax season is not quite over for some folks. But if you're an extra-late filer and want to submit your 1040 electronically, you must do so by Nov. 17. After that date, you'll have to complete your 2017 tax year filing on paper returns. Must-do maintenance: The Internal Revenue Service didn't select the Nov. 17 e-file drop-dead due date randomly. The agency says it needs to shut down its IRS Modernized e-file system that processes electronically-filed individual returns after next weekend so that it has enough time to perform annual maintenance. The IRS also has to reprogram the... Read more →


I'm not nearly as cheery as my smiley face socks in the above photo, but at least I'm recovering from oral surgery at home. The downsides are some pain and (for me, but not the hubby!) not talking very much. There are some pluses, though: ice cream and milkshakes for every meal! Yesterday's procedure also means I'll have more medical expenses to deduct on our 2018 tax return. Yep, we're one of those few people who will be itemizing deductions under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), primarily because of our medical situation the last couple of years. We... Read more →


This photo via Donald J. Trump's Twitter account is the closest we've gotten to seeing his tax returns. That could change, though, now that the House flipped to Democratic control in the midterm election. Even before it was official that Democrats had wrested House control from the GOP in yesterday's midterm elections, Donald J. Trump's taxes were once again a target. Votes were still being counted and, on the West Coast cast, when some on the House tax-writing committee announced that the when leadership is transferred to them in January 2019, they will officially request to see Donald J. Trump's... Read more →


Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! The choices you make in today's mi... Read more →


Don't let tax turkeys gobble up your money. Make these tax moves, a couple of which are related to recent tax reform, this November and for sure by the end of 2018. South Park turkeys via Giphy It's November! The start of the holiday season. Time to get into the festive spirit with some year-end tax moves. "Whoa! Wait! What the what are you thinking?" you say. "I'm still adjusting to Standard Time and already have a huge to-do list to make sure my family has the perfect Thanksgiving. Then as soon as that's over, I've got to start with... Read more →


"The Persistence of Memory" by Salvador Dalí (Oil on canvas, 1931) © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph taken in 2004. (Image from About.com, fair use, via Wikipedia) It's that time of year again, literally. At 2 a.m. today (Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018), most of us said goodbye to Daylight Saving Time and hello to the return of Standard Time. OK, maybe most of us weren't up in the wee hours to actually say goodbye and hello to our clocks. But we're dealing now with the timepiece trickery. A lot of us (me!) will suffer... Read more →


This dog might not feel as guilty as he looks, but shame can be useful in some tax collection situations. (Photo by Ansel Edwards/Flickr) When I was a kid and did something I wasn't supposed to, all it took was one quick glance from my mom to make me feel so ashamed. I'm not sure even my mother's steely look would work nowadays on kids who've grown up on reality TV and who make their every move, good or bad, public on social media. But when it comes to taxes, shame seems to work. Many U.S. jurisdictions post the names... Read more →


Canadian taxpayers have been victims of a telephone tax scam in which identity thieves purport to be from the Canada Revenue Agency. Tax and law enforcement authorities hope recent arrests at Indian call centers will at least slow the scam. (Screenshot from the joint The National/CBC Marketplace report. Click image to watch full video.) Despite some recent diplomatic and trade strains in the United States' relationship with Canada, the two countries share a lot of things, including tax scams. The most pervasive tax scam in America is telephone calls made by crooks pretending to be Internal Revenue Service agents. The... Read more →


If this is how you want to spend all your post-work days, you need to save as much as you can now for retirement. Just when you thought I was through with retirement posts after the parade of them last week, the Internal Revenue Service pulls us into Retirement Week Part 2. The IRS today (Nov. 1) issued the inflation adjusted amounts that can be contributed to the various tax-advantaged retirement plans in tax year 2019. Inflation has been low for most of 2018, thanks to (or blamed by Donald J. Trump) the Federal Reserve Board's incremental bumps up of... Read more →


Despite the mug's proclamation, Michael Scott (as portrayed by Steve Carell in the U.S. version of The Office) tended to be a bad boss. Donald J. Trump is that boss that almost all of us have at one time had. You know the one. He or she is always telling clients, "Sure, we can do that. No problem, no problem at all." Maybe no problem for the boss, but plenty of problems for the workers who have to follow through and make good on the pie-in-the-sky pledge. That's probably how Congress is feeling right now in the wake of Trump's... Read more →


The scariest thing about Halloween this year is we're expecting rain. If the meteorologists are right, it should start by late afternoon and run through early evening. Of course, that's prime time for young ghouls to arrive in our neighborhood, meaning much trick-or-treating likely will be washed out. That frightens me more than the costumed kiddos because I will have to face all the candy that we have on hand. Heck, I've gained 3 pounds just having it in the house, so there's no way I want it around longer! So what to do with the sweets? Here are some... Read more →


Voters across the United States will vote for Congressional and state candidates that will have a profound effect on their lives for the next several years. But just as important are the fates of 155 statewide ballot measures that voters in 37 states will be asked to decide on Nov. 6. And many of those initiatives are about taxes. With a week to go before the midterm elections, here's a bit of background on ballot measures and a look at some of the notable tax-related issues that many of us will decide. Sin taxes not a sure thing: Since we're... Read more →